Sharing our sorrow
Hundreds turn out for vigil honoring Sandy Hook victims
Candles, balloons, handmade VQowflaNHV, VoQJV aQd morH WKaQ a IHw WHarV fillHd 5aLlroad Plaza in Lansdale on a chilly Sunday evening as hundreds of people gathered for a tribute to the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn.
The simple-but-moving, halfKour-loQJ YLJLl — orJaQLzHd YLa Facebook last week by Lansdale rHVLdHQW 5ay LLEHrWo — EHJaQ at 6 p.m. when the assembled throng, beckoned by Liberto, lit candles and bowed their heads aV WKH 5HY. Paul LuWz oI 7rLQLWy Lutheran Church offered a brief prayer. As the names of each of the 26 victims were called out, children in the crowd released green and white balloons — representing Sandy Hook’s school colors — that soared into the clear night sky.
Acoustic guitar in hand, singer Michael Meade of Chalfont then led the crowd in a somber rendition of “Silent Night,” before launching into a medley of more buoyant Christmas songs to lift spirits “and send some holiday goodwill up to Connecticut when they need it the most,” he said afterward.
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“It just became huge real quick, there was an outpouring of people just wanting to do something,” he said. “Tonight is not about gun control, this is about 6- and 7-year-old kids. You go through history, the Columbines and everything else, you remember the guy who did it but you don’t remember the people who died. So this is a part of remembering them.”
Mike Moore, 58, of Fort Washington — and a member of Trinity Lutheran Church — said that he came by “to share my sorrow with others, and for the loved ones that lost their friends in school. It’s not the right way for them to spend Christmas.”
Jennifer Quelly, a 25-yearold teacher from Towamencin, echoed that sentiment. “I feel for the children and the families, as well as the teachers who protected their children, because we would do the same for our children.” Quelly added that gun control issues were also on her mind. “I think this is going to go down in history and I think that it’s going to be very hard for this country to ignore gun control after this. This is a really big eye-opener, and I think things will change,” said Quelly.
Lansdale resident Lindsey Medlin, 28, who said she has three young children in the NorWK PHQQ 6FKool DLVWrLFW, Hxpressed concerns about the notion of armed guards in schools — a SolLFy WKH NaWLoQal 5LflH Association strongly advocated during a press conference last Friday.
“I think that would scare my son to walk into his school and see somebody there with a gun,” she said. “He didn’t hear anything about the shooting and I haven’t talked to him about it because I don’t want him to think school isn’t a safe place. He loves school and I don’t want to ruin it for him.”
Laura Smith, 46, of Towamencin, who was dressed up as an elf — she’s a member of Knights for Life, a charity group IormHd Ey NorWK PHQQ alumQL, and came dressed up at the behest of Liberto to help cheer up the youngsters in the crowd — said she understood that gun issues are on people’s minds, “but I don’t think politics or policy should be a part of this tonight. This is not about gun control or what either side of the aisle thinks, it’s about community spirit.
“When you see the eyes of those scared little children on TV, it just tears your heart out, and that could be us,” said Smith. “This is our community. I’ve been here my whole life, and this is an opportunity for everybody in town to come together at the holidays and show support for another community that’s suffering right now.”
At top, above and below, mourners gather at Lansdale’s Railroad Plaza Sunday evening for a candlelight vigil in memory of the victims of the Sandy Hook school shooting.